Monthly Archives: August 2007

Adapting

Heaven embraces the horizon.
No matter how jagged the profile,
The sky faithfully conforms.

Wherever you are, they sky constantly meets the horizon. It conforms absolutely with the earth’s surface. Changes in the earth or sky do not affect this perfect adaptation. There might be clouds, it might be night, there might be mountains or trees or even buildings on the horizon, but the relationship remains.

No matter what circumstances life may present, we must adapt exactly, whether we think the situation is good or bad. Resistance is useless. Instead, we should concentrate on perceiving whatever circumstances surround us. For example, if one is in a leadership situation, one must adapt one’s vision to that of the group; the successful leader articulates and brings consensus to the group. Being flexible and constantly adjusting to the times is one of the secrets of Tao.

We often think of the landscape as being in the foreground and the sky as the background. It is because the sky is always in the background that it can meet the outline of the foreground perfectly. If we emulate this feature of being in the background, then we too can find perfect conformity with life. Such adaptation is not passivity, however. It is concordance. It is because the sky is in the background that it is in fact supreme. So too with ourselves. If we know how to adapt, we end up being superior.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” — H. G. Wells

Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.” — Marcus Aurelius

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” — George Bernard Shaw

“As human beings we do change, grow, adapt, perhaps even learn and become wiser.” — Wendy Carlos

“The assumption must be that those who can see value only in tradition, or versions of it, deny man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances.” — Stephen Bayley

The Tao is all about adapting to change. I don’t think that necessarily means accepting the conditions we find around us, though. It is more about spiritual adaptation to those conditions – you don’t necessarily have to submit to what is happening around you. You have to spiritually adapt to what is going on around you. Sometimes, that means blending in, other times, it means preparing for a fight that you know will result from the circumstances.

Those who truly lead the group are the ones who gently steer it towards a group consensus, not those who force a group to do what the leader wants done. Leaders who push their own agenda simply get in the way of what the group will inevitably finally decide is right, and be remembered in shame. The true leader emerges as if from the background, and suddenly seems to stand above the rest. But the truth is, they have been there all the time, quietly leading.

Pay attention to what is going on in the background, to what is haapening in response to events, to the storm clouds forming on the horizon or the sun getting ready to burst through what seems like the darkest night. Pay attention to the background of people’s lives that leads them to act the way they do. And always be ready to adapt to the changes in life, the things that seem to be in the background but that will soon affect you. And be content to be in the background, quietly changing things, quietly adapting.

Introduction to The Hedonistic Imperative

Whoa. There are people out there who are crazier than I am!

Cool.

Introduction to The Hedonistic Imperative

A small minority of humans do in fact experience states of indefinitely prolonged euphoria. These states of involuntary well-being are usually pathologised as “manic”. Unlike unipolar depression, sustained unipolar mania is very rare. Other folk who just have high “hedonic set-points”, but who aren’t manic or bipolar, are sometimes described as “hyperthymic” instead. This isn’t a common mindset either. “Bipolar disorder”, on the other hand, is experienced in the course of a lifetime by perhaps one in a hundred people or more. Popularly known as manic-depression, bipolar disorder has several sub-types. Mood characteristically alternates between euphoria and abject despair. Cycles may vary in length. It is a complex genetic condition which runs in families. Typically, bipolarity is marked by a genetic variation in the serotonin transporter as compared to “euthymic” normals. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in sleep, sociability, feeding, activity, impulse-control, mood, and a lot else besides. The serotonin transporter mops up “excess” serotonin released by nerve cells into the synapses. Very crudely, manic states are associated with enhanced dopamine and norepinephrine function; in mania, serotonin function is dysregulated or low.

Sadly, among today’s “bipolars” manic exuberance can spin out of control. Euphoria may be accompanied by hyperactivity, sleeplessness, chaotically racing ideas, pressure of speech and grandiose thought. Hyper-sexuality, financial excesses and religious delusions are common. So is rampant egomania. Sometimes dysphoria may occur. In dysphoric mania the manic “high” is actually unpleasant. The excited subject may be angry, agitated, panicky, paranoid, and destructive. When in the grip of classic euphoric mania, however, it’s hard to recognise that anyone might think anything is wrong. This is because everything feels utterly right. To suppose otherwise is like going to Heaven and then being invited to believe there has been a mistake. It’s not credible.

Today, euphoric (hypo-)mania is liable to be clinically subdued with drugs. [“Hypomania” denotes simply a milder mania.] Toxic “medication” can depress elevated mood to duller but “normal” levels. Such flatter and supposedly healthier levels of emotion enable otherwise euphoric people to function within contemporary society. Compliance with a medically-dictated treatment-regimen (lithium, sodium valproate, carbamazepine, etc.) will be enhanced if the victim can be persuaded that euphoric well-being is pathological. (S)he can then look for warning signs and symptoms. By the norms of our genetically-enriched posterity, however, it is the rest of us who are chronically unwell – if not more so. Contemporary standards of mental health are just pathologically low. Our super-well descendants, by contrast, will enjoy a glorious spectrum of new options for mental super-health. They may opt to combine emotional stability, resilience and “serotonergic” serenity, for instance, with the goal-oriented energy, optimism and initiative of a raw “dopaminergic” high. Post-humans will discover that euphoric peak experiences can be channelled, controlled and genetically diversified, not just medically suppressed.

For there is a cruel irony here. Clinically prescribed mood-darkeners would be laughably redundant for the great bulk of humanity. At present, life for billions of genetically “normal” people is often very grim indeed. No amount of piecemeal political and economic reform, nor even radical social engineering, can overcome this biological reality. Today’s billion-and-one routes to supposedly lasting happiness are pursued in the guise of innumerable intentional objects. [Intentionality in philosophy-speak is the ‘aboutness’ or ‘object-directedness’ of thought]. We convince ourselves that all manner of things would potentially make us happy. All these peripheral routes to personal fulfilment are not merely vastly circuitous and inefficient. In the main, they just don’t, and can’t, durably work. At best, they can serve as palliatives of the human predicament. If the mind/brain’s emotional thermostat, as it were, is not genetically and pharmacologically reset, then even the greatest triumphs and successes turn to ashes. Lottery winners, cup-final hat-trick scorers and blissful newly-weds are left time and again to discover this fate anew. Even those of us who tend to lead a relatively happy day-to-day existence will, in the course of a lifetime, undergo spells of wretched unhappiness and disappointment. If we opt to have children, our corrupt code ensures they will periodically suffer a similar fate.

Just speculating here…

But was this indictment what caused Gonzales to resign?

It would have been interesting to see what was said on Tuesday. I wonder if it will still be said now, or if this indictment will magically go away….

Something tells me Gonzo messed with the wrong bunch of lawyers here. Or did the Edwards campaign set a nice little trap for him?

Hmmm.

Welcome to Grandecom.net – News

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, best known for representing assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, was indicted on charges of conspiring to make more than $125,000 in illegal contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards.

The 10-count indictment was returned Tuesday and unsealed Friday. It names both Fieger and Vernon Johnson, a partner in Fieger’s law firm.

Fieger, in a statement issued Friday afternoon, denied the charges, blaming President Bush’s administration, including a Justice Department led by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that Fieger says is politically motivated.

“The timing of these unprecedented charges, that have no support in fact or law, during the height of the presidential fundraising campaign, is solely intended to intimidate Democratic supporters around the country,” Fieger said.

If convicted, each charge of conspiracy, false statements and illegal campaign contributions carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Obstruction of justice is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Steven Fishman, an attorney representing Johnson, said his client hasn’t done anything wrong.

“In America, despite what Alberto Gonzales might think, people have the right to support political candidates who support their views,” Fishman said. “If that is a crime, citizens should be even more afraid of this administration than they already are.”

Gerry Spence, a prominent Wyoming trial attorney representing Fieger, said his client planned to address the charges during a news conference on Tuesday.

Gonzales Resigns, Vows to Find the Real Perjurers

Gonzales Resigns, Vows to Find the Real Perjurers – The Smirking Chimp

A grim-faced Alberto Gonzales announced today that he was resigning in order to dedicate the rest of his life to “finding the real perjurers.” “They deceived Congress and the American people,” he said, “and I won’t rest until they’re brought to justice.” He added that he also intends to find out who used the chief law enforcement office in the land to subvert the Constitution.

The outgoing Attorney General also noted that someone in a senior Administration authorized the use of torture, which he observed was not only “barbaric” but also violated international law. “That discovery caused me great pain,” Mr. Gonzales said. “I mean, it wasn’t the kind of pain that simulates organ failure or death, but it still kinda smarted.”

Mr. Gonzales scoffed at rumors that he’s writing a book called If I Did It. “Believe me,” the Attorney General said. “If anybody was writing something like that, I’d have gotten a report from Gen. Hayden about it.”

Mending

Got this nice quote in an email today, and must share.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these—to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I'm glad these games my kids play are good for something

Actually the things my kids learn about social cooperation, survival in difficult conditions, and critical thinking that they learn from their game playing are pretty amazing.

And considering that game playing now pays for my own board and keep, I can’t complain much about them. It’s just that in all the years we put into our education, we never imagined the computer games we enjoyed would grow into something that could support us “in real life” — and now, something that has real potential to affect learning to handle something like a global pandemic. Go figure.

How a computer game glitch could help to fight off global pandemic – Times Online

When it comes to the science of surviving a potentially deadly outbreak, there is one question that has always proved particularly tricky for experts.

How do you study the spread of an epidemic, and thus form an emergency plan to ensure the survival of the human race, without putting the population at risk of a real disease?

Researchers have now made an unlikely breakthrough, thanks to a glitch in a fantasy computer game. In an online game called World of Warcraft, an unexpected error in the software has provided a ready-made laboratory for studying the effects of an epidemic.

The 6.5 million players who control characters in the role-playing game supplied the necessary element of unpredictable human reactions without any risk to the real world.

So cute!!

Aw. I love squiddies! This one is gorgeous!

National Geographic News Photo Gallery: Weird Deep-Sea Creatures Found in Atlantic

Despite its delicate, decorated appearance, this jewel squid was found 1,650 lung-crushing feet (500 meters) beneath the surface of the North Atlantic.

Scientists on a recent deep-sea expedition found the squid, called Histioteuthis, along with an abundance of other species thought to be very rare, if not unknown, elsewhere.

Jewel squid are known for their mismatched eyes, one of which is larger than the other to scope for prey in the deep’s darkness.